Taste-Safe Messy Sensory Play for Babies (6+ Months)

Now that Faith is six months old, I am really excited to further explore messy sensory play together! Sensory play helps to promote things including cognitive development, exploring senses, fine motor skills, language, and understanding of the world. Of course – it is very important to use your discretion in choosing what you are comfortable for your little one to explore, as well as closely watching as they discover :).

Faith really enjoyed all of these activities, and Evie had lots of fun joining in too!

Oats

What you will need:

  • Porridge oats
  • Baking tray
  • Rainbow peg dolls (or whatever you think your little one would like)

Faith absolutely loved this sensory activity, and explored for quite a long time! She had fun feeling the oats, watching Evie play, and banging the peg dolls onto the tray. She also enjoyed tasting the oats, which is good for hand-eye co-ordination. I sprinkled the oats over Faith’s hands, as well as told her the different colours of the dolls.

Greek yoghurt ‘paint’

What you will need:

  • Greek yoghurt
  • Food colouring
  • Card

Evie helped me to mix a little food colouring into the Greek yoghurt (we made blue, yellow, and pink).

Faith seemed very interested as she discovered the Greek yoghurt – feeling it with her fingers, and spreading it onto the card. She also liked feeling the silicone cupcake cases, and having a taste of the yoghurt. I used describing words such as “cold” and “squelch”, and told Faith the different colours.

Cloud dough

What you will need:

  • 2 cups plain flour
  • A little over 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Silicone cupcake cases and scoop (these were more for Evie)

I mixed together the plain flour and olive oil, to make cloud dough. It is a soft mixture, which holds its shape when pressed.

This activity is best done before getting ready, as it’s very messy!

Faith enjoyed feeling the cloud dough, and having a little taste! She also watched Evie making “cakes” and “sandcastles”, used hand-eye co-ordination to pick up the scoop, and squished the dough inside her hands.

I then sat Faith on my lap, and the girls felt the soft cloud dough with their feet.

These activities may have been rather messy, but we have had so much fun exploring :). Sensory play activities are a great way for Faith and Evie to play together, and it’s been so lovely to watch them interacting and discovering new experiences.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read. I would love to hear any fun sensory play activities that your little one enjoys!

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Practical Life Skills Around the Home (Montessori)

Montessori is about so much more than shelf work and pretty wooden toys. For us; it is about respecting our children, and trusting them to make age-appropriate decisions. We have discovered that Evie is capable of so much more than we imagine, and has given her a lovely confidence in herself.

To be honest – recently I felt as though we had let some of our Montessori values slip. It wasn’t that I had changed my mind or seen it as unimportant, but busy life with two children meant that I hadn’t made it as much of a priority as I would have liked. Evie was still doing all of these things, but not on a day-to-day basis like she used to. Still, I feel as though we are back on track and things are going well :).

All of these practical life skills are available to our 2 1/2 year old, Evie, as Faith is only 6 months old. However, as Faith gets older she will start to join in these things, and they are all very adaptable for a variety of ages. You may even be doing all of these already!

Cooking and baking

Evie loves helping me in the kitchen. After arts and crafts, it’s probably her favourite way to spend her time.

Sometimes we will bake something as an activity, whereas other times Evie will help me to prepare a meal. Cooking is a lovely sensory experience – as little ones can taste, smell, and feel the ingredients. They also help to develop motor skills (pouring, cutting, rolling and stiring), understanding that an oven cooks food, and taking care of our space (cleaning surfaces). It also makes Evie feel very proud, as she can share what she has made with us :).

Making ginger cake together

Gardening

I am really looking forward to the coming months, when we will get back into some gardening! Evie enjoys planting seeds, digging, and watering plants. While in the garden, she can also discover the nature around her using her five senses.

Gardening helps to promote fine and gross motor skills, an understanding and love of nature, and responsibility. Now that Evie is older, I like the idea of her having her own area (such as flowers or herbs of her choice) that is solely her responsibility to take care of.

Evie watering the garden last summer

Housework

Evie goes through phases when it comes to helping around the house – sometimes she really enjoys it, whereas other times she isn’t too interested. It is always Evie’s choice if she would like to help, but I try to let her join in when appropriate. Here are some chores that Evie helps me with:

  • Dusting
  • Hoovering
  • Sweeping
  • Moping up spills
  • Hanging up laundry to dry
  • Folding clean laundry
  • Emptying the dishwasher
  • Throwing things into the bin
  • Unpacking groceries
  • Cleaning the table

Housework helps children to understand that we have to work together to get things done, and makes them feel valued and responsible. It also further develops motor skills, problem solving, and thinking of others.

Evie dusting our fireplace

Self care

Giving opportunities for children to take part in self care is really important, as they grow older and gain more independence. Some self care activities that Evie helps with include:

  • Brushing her teeth (we do this as well)
  • Washing her face
  • Choosing clothes
  • Dressing and undressing (she still needs support in dressing herself)
  • Putting dirty clothes into the laundry basket
  • Making her bed (she is learning this)
  • Putting shoes and hat on
  • Tidying up and taking care of her space

Doing these activities help Evie to further develop her sense of self, including her preferences and self respect. They also help with motor skills, problem solving, and growing confidence.

Evie making her bed

All you can see – all of these practical life skills are very everyday activities!

I think it’s really important to involve children in the day-to-day runnings of the home, as when they feel it is truly theirs, it will help them to feel valued and show respect. Of course things do take longer, but it truly is so special to see what your little one is capable of.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read, and I hope that you enjoyed it!

5 Learning Activities for Toddlers

I am a big believer that the best learning occurs in everyday experiences. Recognising letters from shop signs, learning colours and shapes from nature, numbers from weighing ingredients, or pencil control from colouring a picture.

However it is also nice to set aside time for fun, hands-on learning activities.

In today’s post, I will be sharing five simple activities that I have provided for my 2 1/2 year old Evie, which focus on some key areas of development. I hope that you enjoy reading :).

Letter recognition

What you will need:

  • Alphabet book
  • Letters (we used foam, but you can always use magnetic or wooden)

For this activity, we read through the alphabet book together and matched the letters. So far we have taught Evie the phonics (letter sounds) with lowercase letters, but I am hoping to introduce the letter name with capital letters now too.

Colour sort

What you will need:

  • Pom-poms
  • A bowl
  • Silicone cupcake cases
  • Jumbo tweezers
  • Scoop

For this activity, Evie had to use her fine motor skills to pick up the pom-poms, and transfer them to the cupcake cases. This is a great opportunity to practice colours and matching.

Number puzzles

What you will need:

  • Paper plates
  • Pencil and felt tip pen
  • Number template (I used our wooden numbers)
  • Scissors
  • Puffy stickers (I used dinosaurs)

To make these puzzles, I cut the paper plates in half using simple patterns. I then wrote numbers on one half, and stuck the corresponding amount of dinosaurs onto the matching half.

Evie enjoyed completing these puzzles with some support. This activity is great for counting, number recognition, and matching.

Shape jump

What you will need:

  • Colourful chalk

Onto our paving stones, I drew a variety of shapes (circle, square, rectangle, diamond, heart and triangle). I would say “jump on the…” and pick a shape, and Evie had to run and jump on the correct shape.

This game is good for developing gross motor skills, listening skills and shape recognition.

Pen control

What you will need:

  • Wipe-clean pen control book

We have recently bought Evie an Usborne Wipe-Clean First Pen Control Book, which she has enjoyed having a try with. Each page has a different fun theme, including ‘under the sea’ and ‘out in space’.

This book is perfect for developing fine motor skills (including coordination and the tripod grasp) as well as concentration.

We have been having lots of fun with these activities, and I like that they are all very simple to provide regularly.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read :).

A Day in our Life: Reading Books and Making Pizza

These type of blog posts may not be the most interesting for others to read, but they are some of my favourite to look back on :). I hope that you enjoy reading if you make it to the end!

Our day began with me nursing Faith in bed, where we shared lots of lovely cuddles and giggles together. I always treasure this slow start to the morning. I then had a quick shower, before Evie woke up.

I am teaching Evie how to make her bed at the moment, so we did that and headed downstairs with Faith. In front of our door there was a slip of paper from the post office…oops – I had missed an early morning delivery!

Evie and I then had breakfast, while Faith happily watched us from her highchair. I had a bowl of porridge, with banana, raspberries, chia seeds and a little honey. Evie chose to have a bowl of Crunchy Nut Cornflakes and banana, followed by some raspberries and Greek yoghurt.

As we ate breakfast, I read a couple of library books to the girls (Faith found my farm animal noises especially funny, and couldn’t stop laughing!) Once we had finished eating; I emptied the dishwasher and did some laundry. I feel as though our breakfast times have been a bit rushed recently, so it was nice to slow down today.

Our plan was supposed to be going to a storytime at the library this morning…but that plan kind of failed. Evie seems to think that getting ready is the worst thing in the world at the moment, and by the time that she was dressed with her teeth brushed, it was too late to go. I explained to Evie why we couldn’t attend the storytime group, as I think it’s good for her to learn that her actions can have natural consequences. We had a cuddle and she seemed to understand.

Once the girls were both ready for the day, we decided to just stay home. I nursed Faith to sleep in my arms, and Evie watched the thirty minute short film, ‘The Gruffalo’s Child’ which she loves.

When Faith awoke from her nap, we all had fun playing. Evie enjoyed reading an animal book, and discovering which animals are grouped together (such as pets or Antarctic). We also played instruments and sang songs, including ‘Miss Polly had a Dolly’ and ‘Peter Rabbit’. I then did some more laundry.

After we had played for a while, it was time to make some lunch! I put Faith into her highchair with some toys, and Evie and I made some simple pizzas that are pretty healthy too. Here is the recipe:

Pizza ingredients

  • 2 cups self-raising flour
  • 300ml Greek yoghurt
  • Tomato puree
  • Cheese
  • Toppings of your choice (we used mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, sweetcorn and dried oregano)

Method

  • Combine together the flour and Greek yoghurt, until you have formed a dough
  • Roll out onto a baking tray using a floured rolling pin, and spread over tomato puree
  • Grate the cheese and add on your toppings
  • Cook in a pre-heated oven (fan 180c) for about 20 minutes

While the pizza was cooking; I played with Faith, and Evie chose to read ‘The Usborne Illustrated Children’s Bible’.

I served our yummy pizza with cucumber slices, and Evie also had some extra cheese on the side. We then both ate some slices of pear. I fed Faith a little pureed parsnip – she isn’t really eating much yet, but is just exploring different tastes for now :). In a few weeks I will start introducing some baby-safe finger foods as well.

As I was clearing up from lunch, Faith began to get tired and upset. Evie was very sweet, and comforted her and gave her a rattle. Evie then helped me to tidy away the toys while I held Faith.

I then took both girls upstairs, and nursed and (attempted to) soothe/rock Faith to sleep. However, every time I layed her down she just woke up! Thankfully she did have some sleep in my arms, so in the end I just brought her back downstairs.

The girls then both had some independent play. I joined in a little when they wanted me to, but mainly just watched them. Evie pretended to bake cakes and cut her wooden fruit for a picnic, and enjoyed serving tea to her toys. It is really lovely watching how Evie’s imagination is growing :). I also read a library book to them.

After a while of playing, it was time for Evie to have a rest upstairs. We don’t mind if she doesn’t sleep (although on this day she did -yay), but like her to have a little quiet time. I read ‘Sarah & Duck Visit the Doctor’ to both girls, before saying a prayer and “sweet dreams”.

I then took Faith back downstairs, where I nursed her and she had a little nap in my arms. As much as I love having a sleeping Faith to cuddle, I really need to work on her taking more naps upstairs now she’s getting older. We also didn’t tidy-up Evie’s toys (which we normally would), as I thought that she may like to continue her game when she woke up.

I used this time to relax – I read, did some blogging on my phone, and watched TV.

Faith woke up at around the same time that David arrived home from work, and we all enjoyed catching up and spending some quality time together. I then got Evie up from her nap, and we spent time together as a family. I also nursed Faith again.

As our groceries were being delivered the next day we didn’t have much food in – so I made a simple dinner of breaded cod with lemon, homemade seasoned wedges and peas. We had fun at dinnertime – laughing at David’s silly faces and making shadows on the wall.

After dinner; I cleared up in the kitchen, tidied the living room, and hoovered. (Side note: if you are in the market for a new vacuum, I highly recommend the Dyson V7 – I actually enjoy hoovering now haha!)

David got Evie ready for bed (she actually had a shower on this day, instead of a bath), and I sang Faith gentle lullabies as I changed her for bed. The sweetest moment of the day came when Evie prayed to see me and Faith, and as we came through to say goodnight, the girls layed beside eachother in Evie’s bed and laughed :). David also read Evie one of her favourite stories, ‘The Paper Dolls’.

I read ‘That’s not my Panda’ to baby Faith, and nursed her to sleep. As she slept in my arms, I listened to some peaceful music and spent time with God. David and I then had a nice evening together :).

Not everything went to plan, but we still had a lovely day together. Time passes by so quickly, and I like having little things like this to look back on. Thank you so much for reading!

Pausing Time.

I sometimes wish that I could pause time.

As baby Faith and our toddler Evie are growing older, I’m finding that things can feel so rushed.

We used to take our time with breakfast… slowly cooking the oats and stewed fruit, lighting some gently flickering candles, and reading Bible scripture or some poetry together. But unfortunately those special, slow breakfast times are just a lovely memory.

Its replacement is an Evie who wants a quick breakfast of granola or Cheerios with fresh fruit, a Faith who keeps dropping her toys from the highchair tray, and me who is emptying the dishwasher while eating a bowl of porridge (as I know that Faith will want to be nursed again soon).

I miss those breakfast times from a few months ago. I miss reading five books in a row, and stopping to look at a spiders web while on a walk. I miss inviting Evie to help me make lunch, and giving Faith a little baby massage at bedtime.

One evening recently; I was putting Evie to bed, and wished that I could just pause time. We snuggled up on her big girl bed as I read her a story, and she smiled at me as she filled in missing words. We then prayed, had a little chat about our day, and shared lots of cuddles and kisses before I tucked her in. We took our time and felt so connected. This is David’s job most days (as I’m usually nursing Faith during this time), so it was truly lovely to share with Evie.

I came downstairs and told David how sweet it was, and he said that he loves that time too – perfectly wording it as a “heart-to-heart” at the end of a long day.

When I think about it – in reality we share lots of these moments. Evie enjoys colouring and playing make-believe together, Faith loves nothing more than snoozing in my arms, and we laugh and play silly games during dinner (just to name a few). But I want more of these moments.

What I’m learning, is that where they used to come fairly easily, we now have to put a little more effort in. I’m sure that if I try, we can have our slow breakfast times back. We can spot that spiders web glistening with fresh dew, and spend the morning reading books together. I just have to be intentional in capturing those moments, while having grace with myself when things veer off course. I also need to remember that things will look a little different. Our breakfast times can still be special without flickering candles and with Faith throwing toys on the floor. It’s just a different type of special, and that’s okay.

Family life can be tiring, and there are times where you are just making it through the day. But family life is also wonderful…full of laughter, connection, and joy.

Time has already seemed to pass so quickly, and I can’t quite believe that Faith is starting to eat solid food, and Evie will be three in the summer. I love my little family, and I want to truly cherish them by slowing down.

I’m not completely sure what the purpose of this post is – I just felt inspired to write about how I am feeling at the moment.

Life will forever change…but I hope that I will always remember to pause, and capture those precious moments. I don’t want them to pass me by.

3 Simple Fine Motor Activities for Toddlers

Fine motor skills are really important for young children to develop, as they are crucial for things such as writing and self-care (for e.g. brushing teeth or buttoning clothes).

My 2 1/2 year old Evie really enjoys fine motor activities, and they are something that I try to provide for her a lot.

Each of these activities help to develop various fine motor skills, including: hand and finger strength, co-ordination, and pincer and tripod grasp.

I hope you enjoy reading some of our simple, yet fun activities :).

Cheerio threading

What you will need:

  • Cheerios
  • Pipe cleaners

For this activity, Evie had to thread the Cheerios onto the pipe cleaners. To be honest, she was more interested in “making rainbows” with the pipe cleaners, and eating the Cheerios! Still, she did a little threading and had fun.

Mess-free mark-making

What you will need:

  • Zip lock bag
  • Paint in two colours (we used red and white)
  • Cotton buds
  • Sellotape

I squirted paint into the zip lock bag, sealed it, and stuck it onto our French doors. Evie used cotton buds and her fingers and make marks in the paint.

This was probably Evie’s favourite activity – as she enjoyed swirling the paints together to make pink, and drawing circles and lines. I also drew her face, shapes, and the outline of our hands which she liked :).

Pom-pom transfer

What you will need:

  • Jumbo tweezers
  • Pom-poms
  • Two containers (we used a bamboo bowl, and flower shaped paint pallet)

Evie really had fun with this activity! She concentrated as she squeezed the tweezers to pick up various sized pom-poms, and divided them into different sections of the pallet.

These are just three fun activities that we have done to help promote fine motor skills recently. Other activities we have been enjoying include – slicing play dough, cutting paper with scissors, threading small beads, and tracing over shapes with felt tip pens :).

Thank you so much for reading!

In the Kitchen with Evie: Valentine’s Melon Pops with Yoghurt Dip

Today, I am sharing a simple and healthy recipe, which is perfect for Valentine’s Day :).

The love heart melon pops are fun to dip into the yoghurt, and it’s really tasty too! I hope that you enjoy reading.

Ingredients

  • Melon (we used honeydew)
  • Strawberries
  • Greek yoghurt
  • Honey

Method

  • Evie and I washed and cut the strawberries (well I did…Evie just ate them haha)
  • We then mashed them up
  • Evie then spooned some Greek yoghurt into a bowl, before stiring through the mashed strawberries and a little honey
  • Next, I used a sharp knife to cut the melon into thin slices (Evie enjoyed exploring the seeds)
  • We then cut out love hearts using the cutter – this was trickier than I imagined, so Evie mainly just watched me do this
  • Finally, we stuck lolly sticks into the bottom of each love heart, and served!

Evie absolutely loved making and eating this healthy snack, and said “yum” between each mouthful :).

I love making things with Evie in the kitchen, even though it always ends up rather messy! Thank you so much for taking the time to read our little recipe.